April 11, 2011

Review of Skins A400 and RY400 Compression Tights

Before I get started:
1. feel free to ask questions in the comments
2. there is an image gallery at the bottom of this post.

I was made aware of Skins via a tweet from Ben Saunders just as I was in the market for a pair of compression tights, having previously purchased a set that weren’t much to my liking.

After some mix ups with my local run shop I finally put in for a pair via the Skins website and they arrived at the moment I was out for my longest training run in preparation for my first ultramarathon.

I returned to my in-laws after almost 6 hours out in some light winter rain. My body ached, my knees hurt, my quads were fried and my calves shredded.

The family was about to sit down for lunch, there was a nice fire going and I opted to skip the shower and sit down for lunch first. I washed up a bit and, excited to have the new gear, decided to toss on the A400 full tights and see how they felt. Little did I know what I was in for.

Lets just say that compression tights work. After a few minutes the tendon pain and ache in my knees were gone; my quads felt solid, the soreness was gone and I actually felt human rather quickly.

The A400 full tight

I have put approximately 80 hours of running into these tights. I have had running tights in the past but these compression tights are another story. They are much tighter than normal tights and actually change the way your muscles feel. My legs felt more solid and less achey during the maybe 100 hours I have used them.

They have flat-lock stitching inside so they are very comfortable. I wear the tights ‘au-naturel’ and have had zero chaffing issues at all, even at the end of the 75km I completed in January.

Comparing them to my CW-X compression tights, the Skins seem to compress in all directions; there is no loose bit that you can slide around when applying shear stress with your fingers.

The material of the Skins is also much thinner than the CW-X, which feel thicker then your normal tight. While my CW-X tights were better than normal tights, they don’t compress as completely as the Skins and the pair that I have don’t have flat-lock stitching.

As for breath-ability, my skin actually feels cooler with the Skins on. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but if you put them on and just sit around in them, you’ll notice that your legs feel a little chill.

One last bit, I have used the Skins A400 tights at the gym for some of my more demanding leg workouts when I was already carrying some soreness. This worked out well. As they breath so well I wore a pair of training pants over-top of the tights.

The RY400 Recovery tights

Truth be told I have been wearing these almost every day under my jeans since my wife surprised me with them for Christmas.

They don’t appear to be much different then the A400’s in the cut and paneling, but they are not quite as tight and perhaps more flexible around the joints; this makes them easy to wear underneath other pants. They work; they simply leave you feeling more solid after beating yourself down during long runs and high volume weeks.

The most shocking thing I have seen from these tights, though, was upon returning to our hotel after I dnf’d my first ultrarun. My wife dropped me off and headed out to the finish line to pick up my gear bag, including my tights.

I hopped in the shower, shivering and cold. Despite staying in there for some time, legs up and the water nice and hot, I was still shivering when I got out. I crawled into bed and snuggled with the hot tortilla sandwich we had ordered from the hotel.

My wife returned with the gear about 15 minutes later and I was still shivering. I changed into some compression socks and the recovery tights and bam, stopped shivering.

A believer in compression, a believer in Skins

Both of these products have been fantastic. Washing is easy, hang and they dry quickly. One interesting thing to note is that they are cooler than other tights I have had; they seem to breathe very well.

Also worth noting, the RY400’s are not as tight as the A400’s. I imagine this allows some extra movement, and this is useful when wearing the RY400’s under a pair of jeans.

Lastly, after a recent training camp where I was recovering from a virus and with a cold, I put in record training volume. In the last two days my legs were feeling the volume, and thinking that maybe the extra squeeze of the A400’s would make a difference, I switched from using the RY400’s for recovery to using the A400’s (which I wasn’t running in due to the 30+ heat). This worked. The second to last day I was thinking about resting, but the A400’s had my legs feeling good. That mental boost of my legs feeling good helped me to get out and put in another 4 hours over the last two days. That is priceless.

So that’s about it. Be sure to check out the image gallery below. Looking forward, my wife has surprised me with a full sleeve Ice Top which I will use for the AAUT. Next up will be to get some shorter tights for the race!

Skins A400 and RY400 image gallery

The photos below were done with my iPhone outside on a sunny day; the tights are actually black and charcoal in color.

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  • hey man, i swim in college and was thinking about getting a pair of these for recovery; upper and lower body. would you recommend the Ry400 or the tighter fitting A400?

    • Mike

      Thanks for asking!

      Based on my experience it depends on where you are going to wear them. The RY are more flexible and so easier to wear under clothing and easier to move around in. I should say that I rarely wear the A400 for recovery, only when things are dire; maybe after 3 days of back to back >25km runs and my legs are still sore.

    • I think I’d get the RY. The tighter ones are just harder to move around in, especially if you are thinking of wearing them around under a pair of jeans or sweater… 

  • Felix D

    Hi! Awesome review! I’m just curious as to where on the skins Size chart you fit in (http://a248.e.akamai.net/f/248/37853/6h/i3.skins.net/catalog/product/m/e/mens_long_tights_2.png) and how you feel about your size choice. I’m weighing in right between M and L and I’m unsure if the M will be too tight and impairing blood flow instead of improving it.

    • Thanks! 

      I’m 6 even and 74-75 kilos, so that puts me right in the M. Tough call man… If you can’t try any on… check the website. I know on some websites (Patagonia, for example) they’ll tell if you that if you are right on the line, buy up or down.

  • Lucia Oldenhof

    I too didn’t release the benefits of Skins’s Compression Tights using the women’s She Capri’s. The only drawback was not the tights themselves, but the stupidly shaped DVD which got stuck in my DVD drive! And they tights leak heaps of ink on the first couple of washes. Lucia, NZ.

    • Thanks for the comment! Interesting about the ink, I didn’t run into that issue. I also didn’t try the DVD, and now, I won’t!!

  • Keith

    Great Review! I need your advice… I only have enough money for either ry or the A400. I train in crossfit and my legs are really sore for a couple of days after. I would like to train in a pair and also would like to wear it to recover. what one do you think I should purchase?


    • Tough call; I’ve worn the A400 during recovery time but can’t really comment on if it helps me to recover. What it does do is diminish the DOMS soreness, which results in a mental lift because I don’t feel the soreness so much. 

      That said, the RY’s are easier to wear underneath clothing, as they provide more freedom to move when under clothing…

    • Andrew @ FuelMe

      The RY400 tights have larger panels of Memory MX fabric around and behind the knee so they have a offer a bit more flexibility and movement in them than the A400 tights which makes them better for lounging around in. Not as good for training in though as they won’t give as much compression or stability as the A400. The A400 tights also have a split calf support panel to give better compression on the soleus and gastrocnemius muscle groups, as well as Memory MX fabric across the Archilles to take a bit of tension off this when exercising in them (and a key pocket).
      If you really want the 400 series for both training and recovery then get the A400 tights as they will be ideal for crossfit. Otherwise the A200 tights would be a good compromise for both recovery and exercise.

  • Stone

    actually just wanted to complement you on a great review. very informative with a great perspective of your own thoughts..
    this review helped decide to try out the skins. Have for some time been trying to pick between 2xu and skins.

    all in all thank you and all the best

  • Lee

    Hi there,

    I’d also like to complement you on a great review.

    I have a question for you, I’m not sure whether to buy the A400 or A200, it seems to me that the A400 is for the more professional athlete that really pushes their body to the limits and the A200 is more of an everyday sports person.

    Is that assumption correct?

    I’m by no means a professional, I am building up to run a 10k, I started running last year and got a knee injury which has taken a long time and decent gear to get rid of so I’m hoping these will assist with injury prevention and maximising performance and recovery.

    Would really appreciate your advice. 

    Many thanks 🙂

    • Lee

      Hmmm I’ve just read another review… http://www.fuelme.co.nz/skins-a200-vs-a400/

      This seems to suggest that the A400 is technically the high end product for training, the RY400 is the best for recovery and the A200 sits somewhere between the A400 & RY400 in terms of results and cost. (A200 =£50 … A400 & RY400 = £100)

      So my question is still which to order not from a cost point of view though.

      Thanks! 🙂

      • Hi Lee… Tough call… Here’s the thing, I like the A400’s for running, for sure. Wearing them both (A400 and RY400) you can tell there is a difference in compression between the two. Now, when my legs are really shot, they feel better *recovering* in the A400’s. What I mean is, my legs, when really shot, feel better sitting around the house in the A400’s than the RY. 

        Training for a 10k means you are going to have some muscle soreness. So I would opt for the piece of gear that is going to help you the most, the A400.

        As an aside, I was running a very mountainous 65km ultra in December and wore the shorter Skins (quad length) A400’s for the first 35km. At that point I pulled the full A400’s out of my little backpack and put them on. My knees felt soo much better!

  • Kuntxu444

    Great review!

    Here are my 2 cents:

    I run about 60 km per week. Recently bought the Skins A400 compression tights for men, as well as the Nike Swift also compression tights, and Nike Tech tights. I am 1 m 75 cm and my weight is 71 kg. In all 3 cases I bought the M size. The Skins are absolutely awesome, they fit like a glove, don’t move during running, and I have not experienced any chafing. The seams are very flat and in the right places, and the compression is very evenly distributed over the whole leg, just great not too much not too little. There is no doubt that a lot of care and thinking has gone in the development of the product. The tights are made to fit around your buttocks perfectly, so that the low waist is great and comfortable. (and my wife likes the look of them, she says, a bonus as well).

    The material used in the Swift Nike’s is not as nice and soft as that in the Skins, and is on outward appearance slightly glossy vs the matt of the Skins. The Swift tights are high waist. The Nike Swift also perform well during running but the compression is not as strong. They do not fit as nicely as the Skins A400; upon putting them on there is a distinctive feeling of a pull downwards, however, during running they stay put and are fine. The portion of the tights around the ankle is too wide; this is strange because for the Nike Techs it is just fine. The Swift tights are not recommended for running in cold weather; the crotch area got really cold. You feel the compression of the Nike Swifts mostly around the knees. In fact, the overall compression of the Swifts is less pronounced than that of my Nike Tech tights, and the Tech tights are softer and more comfortable though no match for the Skins A400. 

    In conclusion, the Skins A400 are brilliant and I can recommend them for running to everyone. I like them very much. They are about 20 euros more expensive than the Nike Swifts (if you buy them on-line via these company’s websites – you can get them cheaper around the internet), but the extra price is worth it. I am not aware of anything better on the market. The Nike Swifts do not convince me as much and it is unlikely I will be using them a lot. The Nike Techs are great, they are warm and nice to run in in colder weather.

    • SAIPHS

      would like you to try our pro weight tights at http://www.saiphs.com use the contacts us page and send us a email.

  • Varis

    Hello, I am playing soccer and tennis. What should I buy (the tights or the full)?

  • luvskinz

    I recently purchased the A400 Long Tights and fell in love with them the minute I put them on. I’ve never felt anything like this before. They are so comfortable, smooth, and give amazing even compression. I hate even taking them off. I loved them so much, i puchased the RY400, and pair of the A400 Half Tights for next summer. The recovery tights do fit slightly looser than the other one, but still provide that smooth compression. The material and construction are amazing and superiour to anything else I’ve tried. I’m obsessed with these and hope these all last a long time if I take care of them.

    • luvskinz

      My A400s…

  • Mikademius

    Hi and thank you for a great review. i have a qouple of questions:
    1) seeing as the a400s are so tight, how does the hair on your legs feel. Usually, if hairs are pulled in the wrong direction for a while, it hurts…

    2) I have big calfs, but slim legs. Calfs are as wide on their largest as my quads on the slimmest area right above the knee. Do you think they woukd be too tight?

    i wanted to get a pair of the 2XUs, but the 400s cought my attention recently and I really want to look into them:)

  • paul

    What an idiot hmm let’s see if done approx eighty hrs in these, then says in the hundred or so hours vague and unreliable not to mention the smelly that skipping shower for lunch with family

  • igorDykhta

    The RY400 tights are fantastic for running.